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Tags: GOP | Congress | judges | nuclear option | filibuster

Sen. Orrin Hatch: Keep 'Nuclear Option' on Judicial Nominees

Thursday, 06 November 2014 08:13 AM EST

Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray are urging Republicans to bring back "full debate and an open amendment process" while repairing the damage done to the Senate by the Democrats.

In an opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, they say that the GOP should become "a forum for meaningful deliberation," which they believe means that the GOP should not dump the nuclear option passed by the Democrats.

"In preparing to lead, Senate Republicans must not repeat the Democratic majority’s excesses," they wrote. "Instead, our party must now begin the hard work of repairing much institutional damage.

"The Senate’s procedural safeguards exist not to protect individual senators, but to preserve Americans’ liberty. But that fundamental goal — protecting liberty — counsels against blindly returning to the prior status quo.

"Some bells cannot be unrung. Chief among these is Sen. (Harry) Reid’s decision to invoke the 'nuclear option' to strip minority senators of their ability to filibuster judicial nominees."

Hatch and Gray said that the nuclear option allowed the Obama administrations to reshape the judicial branch to suit its far-left agenda.

And they noted that The New York Times has reported that judges appointed by Democratic presidents far outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents.

The advantage has only grown since last year, when Democrats "stripped Republicans of their ability to filibuster the president’s nominees," Hatch and Gray, who was White House counsel from 1989-93, are quoted in the Times as saying.

"It will fall to the next Republican president to counteract President Obama’s aggressive efforts to stack the federal courts in favor of his party’s ideological agenda," they wrote.

"But achieving such balance would be made all the more difficult — if not impossible — if Republicans choose to reinstate the previous filibuster rule now that the damage to the nation’s judiciary has already been done.

"To restore the rule now, after Mr. Obama has installed his controversial judges, would cement a partisan double standard: When Democrats control the White House and Senate, judicial nominations need only 50 votes; but when Republicans control both, judicial nominations require 60 votes, allowing Democratic minorities to block Republican nominations."

Hatch and Gray pointed out that if Republicans bring back the judicial-nomination filibuster, it would only remain until a new Democratic majority decided "that discarding the rule again would be useful."

They added, "Indeed, Republican willingness to restore the old filibuster rule would only increase Democrats' incentives to engage in further rule changes in the future.

"If Republicans refuse to hold Democrats to the new nominations rules they set for the Senate, Democrats will have no reason to fear that they may someday bear the costs of their own tactics.

"The Senate can and must be restored as a check on executive-branch overreach, a forum for true legislative debate and a bulwark for liberty. But unilateral disarmament on nominations would only invite further damage to the institution."

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Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray urge Republicans to bring back "full debate and an open amendment process" to the Senate, but keep the anti-filibuster option since damage there is done.
GOP, Congress, judges, nuclear option, filibuster
Thursday, 06 November 2014 08:13 AM
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